Sunday, 4 February 2018

revisiting the Khadas Vim2 Pro oops no its a 2GB Basic..

This is an odd beast for sure, I had trouble with it simply because it uses a USB C cable for power, and even though it came with one my usb output from the monitor never seemed to give enough power and it would frequently die at the end of a boot.

Well finally I got a converter for micro to USB C, and also managed to finally work out how to update the on board memory to have a linux (ubuntu) system instead of the default, but actually rather nice Android

This is an 8 core beast (big/small) which should put it on a par with the might XU4, it even has a better GPU a Mali T820, but only MP3 , not quite up to the XU4's MP6 but even so its a next gen chip so it might manage it. Its an ES3.2 chip, which even if it can't quote provide the parallel grunt sending ES2.0 shaders to work, its ES3.2 shaders should make them cry.

After a bit of head scratching which turned out to be nothing more than very bad documents that didn't immediately make sense I was able to get it to reflash, and then update.

Time for the graphics fun to begin but of course there's no drivers on board...oh well...

Installed GLMark2-ES2 ok, after I'd allowed the onboard installer to do an update and reset. It does not identify the MaliT820 though so its basically emulating and slowly as you might expect, frame rates so far are nothing to write home about and of course it errors a lot at the death, eventually exiting with no score.

I'll see if I can get the usual mesa libs on board and try to get a test build sorted...should only take an hour

And bugger me, that was actually quite easy, once I'd set up the standard libs etc, and also installed and activated SSH server with
sudo apt-get install openssh-server
sudo service ssh start

I had no problems getting the generic mult config Maze hunt to build at run at all aside, from the known keyboard problems, the chmod fix however got me control and off it went.

Its running a very slow of course due to lack of hardware access to the GPU but its performing as well as any of the other units without graphics. So I'm genuinely impressed. That was the easiest I've had so far, and the 1st time I've been able to do a -j8 options without the target dying. Most impressive. It does get bloody hot though, and the fact its already encased in a perspect case means I can't add a heat sink or fan to it..but it does not seem to be too worried and is running all 8 course at a nice old rate.

Will it ever get GPU access? I dunno...we'll see.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Revisiting the Tinkerboard, it works...kinda

There's new imgs of the Tinkerboard available now, and I noted that OpenGLES2 and ES3 have been made available so I set about burning a new img

Sure enough there they were so I set up my test project and .....sooooo much hassle, lots of confusion issues with extension defines needed and installs of X11 and GDB but eventually I did get it up and running, and was a little surprised at how unremarkable it was in terms of speed. Well my demo isn't really optimized for speed so its very hard to be sure.

But sadly the keys don't work, even using the chmod "fix", I'll need to investigate furner runs.. its not comfortable using mostly generic code, so perhaps some specific graphics code is needed to get the best out of it, but hey ho.

It runs :D I'm happy, and that also means at some point I can have a tinker (see what I did there) with the OpenGLES3x options it provides

No clue about the keys though, I hope I don't have to write whole new chunks of keyboard coding.

To add further curiosity to the speed, I installed and run GLMark2-es2 on it and it came out with a woeful score of 48....48??? thats terrible...

Orange Pi One Plus the new H6 stop gap

Here we go, the 1st accessible H6 based board on the market, essentially a small upgrade to the original H3 version of the same board. But an H6 is in theory a lot more bang for buck, with most notably a Mali 720MP2 GPU, thats an OpenGLES3.1 and OpenCL1.1 capable GPU and markedly more powerful than most other chips on the market.

MP2 is always upsetting I would like to see at least MP4 but even so, it gives an extra level of performance that most Pi clones can't compete with.

Sadly though its from Orange Pi, who I respect for pushing out all kinds of nice tech, but who have not demonstrated any desire to supply decent OS's, making the boards mostly useless for games. They chuck the boards out, let users figure it out and by the time they do, they've moved on to a new board and people lose interest.
Its a shame..they could be market leaders if they would only look at the software they supply.

Allwinner did release specs on their GPU's last year though, so there's some hope that the 3rd party market will actually produce some decent drivers for this....some hope...only some.

For now, only an Android img exists, so for me its going to go back in the drawer for a few months, and I'll wait till there's a stable Linux with drivers to play with.
Its available from AliExpress for just under 20euro's (incl delivery)

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Bananna Pi M2 Zero

A very interesting board indeed, its a zero in its layout, but this time a quad core.. Sadly only a Mali 400Mp2 but it should out perform the Raspberry Zero.

As always though the software isn't here yet, Armbian does a fair attempt at getting it up and running but terrible graphic glitching makes it useless for any kind of graphic systems, and it GLMark2-es seemed to think it had OpenGLES3.0 GPU on board, the Mali 400's are strictly ES2.0 which probably explains why it wasn't able to complete the tests,though it did get quite far into them, though very slow

I'll do an update/upgrade cycle on it from time to time to see if there's any improvement, but for now this is a non starter for our gaming purposes.

Also interesting to note it gets bloody hot, I put a heat sink on it, wouldn't want to run without.

edit... ok I found a slightly older verison of the Armbian/ubuntu test build which installed at 720p and it is much more stable, after update and upgrade it is quite stable, no glitching and GLMark2-es2 worked better, showed as Mali400 and ran all the tests, but it reported a really crap score of 52, which is feeble compared to a Raspberry, even the Zero.

Not sure what to make of this, its quad cores make it a great unit, its crap graphics make it pretty useless, but functional barely. I guess as with all maker boards it depends what you want to do with it, if you need a small cpu system, its amazing.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Hmmm bit too early for the UpCore

The UpCore has given me a few issues, not least of which was a reluctance to actually boot. But a request for help on the Up forums eventually yielded a solution, turn it on and off again...basically.

Removal of the battery for 30 seconds or so, and reconnect, saw it finally boot up.

But oh boy its slow. It also had no GL or GLES drivers, or GDB on board, though these were easy enough to install, and getting a buildable config was fairly painless.

However, despite that ease it has been incredibly reluctant to build the test map demo. The build refused to build with a -j4 settings despite being a quad core, hyper threading capable machine. It runs out of virtual memory, no idea what causes that.

But annoyingly, but after trying -j2 and getting a hang I went to -j1 and finally we get a build...a very slllllooooow build

But sadly not to completion, it eventually chokes on the modelmanger.cpp file, which as far as I can see isn't anything out of the ordinary. After sitting waiting for it to move on it gives an unspecified error. Cancelling the build on the PC side does not do anything to cancel on the target side, which becomes crippled as its building.

I used the same config but with a different target address for the Up^2 and it built and ran just fine, though with the known issues with shaders. As the Core is built on the same principles as the Up^2 its all a bit suspect.

As this is so new, I suspect the issues is more to do with a very early OS and certain features of the CPU not being fully activated (like multicore).

I'll put it away for a while and come back to it in a few weeks to see if there is an improvement.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Sorry been busy...but got a new board UPcore

No time recently to try out the new Nano Pi's but I am hoping to this weekend.

I also took delivery of my new 4core Atom 1.84Ghz Up core board. This has to be one of the smallest intel base machines you can possibly have, its only about twice the size of a zero, but is markedly more powerful. Actually in theory I think it can out perform the celeron powered Up^2 I got in August. Which despite some issues I had with shaders put every other board I have to shame.  I can't wait to try it out.

I was hoping its eMMC memory would come ready configured with an OS to let me boot it up and try it but it needs a bit of TLC before it will show me something, as one of the 1st owners of these, there's really not a lot of content yet. Powering it up, gives me nothing at the moment, so I assume its blank and the eMMC needs flashing. But not quite sure what that is all about at the moment.

I will get on it after I've tried out the nanoPi's.
Its a nice little board, though the lack of Network port might be an issue, but hopefully my trusty usb extension with network port will work ok.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

ohhhh this might be good

Friendlyarm are one of my favorite companies, they are pushing a lot of boundaries with their range, they don't always hit it, but at least they try. Their old M3 and T3 boards are amazingly fast, though of course suffer a little from very old GPU's. But that power might make it possible to do more than a few things to ease the load on the GPU.

That said, the GPU is at a disadvantage anyway because of the usual, lack of drivers. So I'm really excited to see 2 new revisions of the M2 and M3, now packed in the smaller Fire3 and Fire2A format.
Allegedly with GPU acceleration.

If thats true then this little board could be one of the fastest machines under $40, graphics won't be a massive change, but it will be fun to use. I've got both the models heading over to me. I'll see how they stack up. I "think" the chip is a Mali 400, it might not even be  an MP2, quite possibly a single...ugg....but 8CPU cores, if they don't burn up and throttle will be wonderful.